How can you be neutral when your country is being destroyed?

Former president Jacob Zuma and President Cyril Ramaphosa during the ANC manifesto launch in January. Picture: Jabulani Langa
Former president Jacob Zuma and President Cyril Ramaphosa during the ANC manifesto launch in January. Picture: Jabulani Langa

Are we voting for President Cyril Ramaphosa or the ANC? Is there a difference?

The question for ANC voters is what can we achieve by voting overwhelmingly for Ramaphosa?

True, he will get a vote of confidence from the voters, that is the people of South Africa.

With an overwhelming vote he will resume office with a strong mandate.

On the positive side, with a strong mandate he will reshuffle the Cabinet and – hopefully – appoint trustworthy Cabinet ministers.

We hope that subsequently the appointed Cabinet ministers will appoint competent director-generals and other civil servants.

But look at the other side of the picture. According to ANC structures, he will still be subject to account to Luthuli House at the office of the secretary-general Ace Magashule and deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte.

The relations between Ramaphosa and Magashule will be tested to the limit. It can be antagonistic if not managed properly.

Whoever wins that tussle will shape the future of the country and the ANC in the whichever direction.

At the same time, an overwhelming win for Ramaphosa as president also means that the ANC’s party list of candidate MPs – including many implicated in the state capture inquiry under Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo – will be sitting in the next Parliament.

This means that ANC parliamentarians could fill the National Assembly with deployees of the Guptas and the Watsons, unless the current candidate list is cleansed.

There is no sign of that happening before the general election in May. As things stand, this means the National Assembly will be captured again via the ANC party list.

How can this be good for the country?

We cannot underestimate the rumours that at the next national general council of the ANC in 2020, the slate of defeated former President Jacob Zuma will push for a motion of no confidence in Ramaphosa.

This is a risk that must be taken very seriously.

Ultimately our salvation as a country might lie in the competence of the National Prosecuting Authority.

The establishment of a new unit of competent police investigators and competent accountants under a competent NPA head will go a long way towards getting rid of criminals in Parliament, in the government and other state institutions.

It must be a serious risk for any politician, civil servant, police officer or auditor to steal from state coffers.

The possibility of rotting in prison without parole must become a deterrent, a reality for all looters irrespective of the level of their hierarchy.

But this is still very far from secure under a future Ramaphosa presidency.

A win for President Ramaphosa is great for the country, but a win for the ANC might be bad for the country.

The ANC in the past 10 years allowed its deployee, former president Zuma, to loot the state and government without stopping him.

The ANC allowed Zuma to use state money to build his Nkandla compound. This was bad in all respects.

Worse still, in the last five years, is that Ramaphosa was the deputy president. He watched all the mess at arm’s length.

Is it the correct principle to be neutral when the country is being destroyed in front of your eyes? Doing nothing and wait for your turn?

One thing is clear: there was no moral courage in most of the ANC executive committee members and parliamentarians during Zuma’s presidency.

It looks like they were elected at Mangaung in 2012 to protect corruption rather than to fight corruption.

Revelations at the state capture inquiry show that most ANC leaders – including Cabinet ministers, director-generals, national prosecuting authority officials and police management – had been captured by the Guptas and with bribes from the Watsons.

All this was revealed at the inquiry under deputy chief justice Zondo.

The question is how should ANC voters relate to this? It is impossible to pretend these facts are not staring us in the face.

Given this reality, how should we vote? Is there any security that a new governing majority for the ANC in the National Assembly will be better than the last assembly of rogue parliamentarians?

The problem lies in the undemocratic character of our electoral laws, which imprison MPs in chains controlled by party headquarters.

Once the party HQ is captured, the party’s MPs are captured. Voters have no control over any MP. As voters we are slaves of the party list system.

This is not representative democracy, since MPs are appointed to represent party HQ, not the voters.

Corruption and state capture were guaranteed by this electoral law, placed in the Constitution by the ANC and the National Party in the constitutional negotiations in 1993.

It is our democracy’s fatal flaw.

Whatever the outcome of the coming election and however each ANC voter decides to vote, this problem must be resolved if we are to deal with the permanent threat of state capture under the passive gaze of unaccountable and complicit MPs.

We need to change the parliamentary electoral laws so that politicians are directly accountable to the voters and not to their respective party headquarters.

Cabinet should be rightfully accountable to the president but parliamentarians should be accountable only to the voters.

Most ANC members of Parliament are more loyal to party headquarters than to South Africa’s Constitution, which is fundamentally wrong.

The past five years have demonstrated this conflict of loyalty, to the shame of our country.

The ANC must be understood as a vehicle to guide developments in South Africa but it can never replace the country and it must never be equated to the country.

The Constitution is superior above all political parties and laws. The ANC president must never be conceived as being above the law of the land.

To ensure this, we must reform our Constitution so we can protect the best from the worst.

We can only wish President Ramaphosa well in steering South Africa to safety, away from the high seas of the Guptas and Watsons.

But let us understand: The people should govern ... not Luthuli House.

Omry Makgoale is a rank and file member of the ANC. These are his personal views

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